Seeking to fish in troubled waters, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on Thursday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sack Telecom Minister A Raja with a promise of "unconditional" support of 18 MPs if the DMK withdrew support but the Congress was dismissive about the offer.
Jayalalithaa egged on the "hesitant" Congress to take action against Raja, saying his continuance in the government would "permanently damage" the credibility of the party.
"My priority is that probity should be restored and perpetrator of such a massive scam should not go scot-free simply because of coalition political compulsions," the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister told Times Now news channel.
"Things have reached such a stage and such a crescendo today that any delay in action against Raja would permanently damage the very credibility of the Congress and put a very big question mark on its future," she said.
As opposition attack increased on Raja over alleged irregularities in 2G spectrum allocation, Jayalalithaa said Singh and Congress were wrong if they thought that the Minister will step down on his own.
Claiming that she "will show the way for Congress," Jayalalithaa said she can ensure the support of 18 MPs, the strength of DMK in Lok Sabha, in the event of Karunanidhi's party pulling out of the Government.
"There are other like-minded leaders. I have spoken to them. My party has 9 MPs in Lok Sabha. The friendly parties have enough numbers. What is holding back the Congress now?" she asked.
Commenting on the offer, Union Minister and AICC in-charge of Tamil Nadu Ghulam Nabi Azad said "there is no vacancy in Tamil Nadu" as the party already has an alliance with DMK.
AICC Media Department Chairman Janardhan Dwivedi also was dismissive, saying, "it may be her feelings. We have nothing to comment on it."
He also underlined that "at the moment, it is very clear that DMK is our very important alliance partner."
Jayalalithaa said she was not making "ideal claims. I am not in the habit of making ideal claims. What I am saying is that I have the numbers to replace the 18 DMK MPs. I mean what I say."
Asked whether she would impose any conditions for her support to the Congress, the AIADMK chief said there will be no terms and conditions from her side.
Congress, which is reluctant to act against Raja despite mounting attack, apparently wants DMK itself to withdraw him from the Cabinet.
Suggestions in this regard were clear when a senior Congress leader said, "had he been in our party, he would have gone by now."